Not to take any excitement away from Brian Schneider’s official welcome to New York, I thought I’d glaze over some of the transactions executed over the last few days.
Tadahito Iguchi signed a one-year contract with the San Diego Padres. That’s very similar in length to the one-year contract David Eckstein signed with the Blue Jays. Looks like Luis Castillo did a nice job of snookering the Mets into a 4-year deal. Of course, hindsight is 20-20; I remember last November the Mets thinking three years was too much for a middle reliever (Chad Bradford), only to be caught at the end of the prom without a dance partner and being forced into a 3-year deal for Scott Schoeneweis. Strange, though, isn’t it, that Castillo’s deal didn’t “set the bar” for Iguchi and Eckstein? Maybe those guys should fire their agents.
The Padres also came to terms with Michael Barrett, though I don’t think they wanted to. He may be traded shortly.
The Phillies gave Geoff Jenkins a 2-year contract (ouch) and a one-year deal to Chad Durbin. Jenkins will likely strike out 195 times but may hit 30 HRs in CBP. I think they may have overpaid, but suppose they were desperate to replace some of the offense left behind by Aaron Rowand (who signed with the SF Giants). Durbin was a solid pickup for them — a guy who doesn’t have to be guaranteed a rotation spot, but will probably do some starting and be useful in their bullpen. I would have liked to have seen the Mets get Durbin for the same reasons, but suppose they didn’t want to give him an MLB contract. That’s fair — assuming they’re working on picking up a more skilled arm for a similarly short commitment. Phillies GM Pat Gillick is going with the same strategy he used last year: get as many arms as possible into the organization, and use them all as the season goes along. The Mets will likely stick to their plan of finding seven relievers to go with their five starters — though hopefully the seventh reliever will be allowed to pitch more than twice a month.
By the way the Phillies also signed Andy Tracy — who was Mets property last season — and veteran LHP Vic Darensbourg to minor league contracts and extended to them ST invites. Tracy had a nice year for the Zephyrs but as a 33-year-old, LH-hitting first baseman wasn’t going anywhere with the Mets. Darensbourg is one of those “little lefties” who keeps showing up in spring training for somebody every year. I think his turn with the Mets was 2004, and he wasn’t very impressive.
The Astros signed Chad Paronto to a one-year deal. I’m assuming this is a MLB contract, and again I can’t fault the Mets for passing — he’s another guy who would have been nice on a minor league deal. Paronto has the girth to fill the wide spot on the bullpen bench left by the butts of Chad Qualls and Brad Lidge. How he’ll pitch is another story.
The Royals signed former Met Matt Peterson to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training. The nostalgic side of me would have liked to have seen Peterson with the Mets again. However I’m sure they have good reason for passing on him.
The Cardinals signed D’Angelo Jimenez to a minor league deal. Presumably he’ll add depth to the middle infield with Eckstein departing.
The Braves signed Javy Lopez to a minor league contract. Not sure why he thought he could take a year off, but whatever. If he can still hit the Braves may have trade bait for an AL team looking for a DH at the deadline.
The Rockies signed Kip Wells and Mark Redman to one-year deals. Can’t say I’m jealous.
The Cubs signed Kosuke Fukudome to a four-year deal. That’s a big gamble for a guy with no MLB experience. Obviously the Mets can’t sign any position players from Japan until everyone forgets the Kaz Matsui debacle (and they certainly couldn’t sign a guy with “Fuk-u” in his name). I’ll be pulling for Fukudome — except when he plays against the Mets — as I enjoyed watching him in the World Baseball Classic.
The Kansas City Royals signed LH reliever Ron Mahay to a two-year deal. Who do they think they are? When are the Royals going to need a LOOGY?
The Brewers have signed Gabe Kapler to a one-year deal. Like Lopez, he also took a year off — though he gave managing a try. Should be interesting to see how “pumped” he looks in his return.
The Tigers were able to negotiate a 3-year extension with newly acquired Dontrelle Willis. The more I think about it, the more it disappoints me that D-Train didn’t make it to Queens — he seems to be the type of guy who is bound to wind up in NYC eventually. He’s still young, and there’s still time.
Finally, the Mets signed no one since Matt Wise, who has been added to an impressive offseason list of pitching acquisitions that also includes Brian Stokes and Stephen Register. For those keeping score, the Mets also subtracted Guillermo Mota, Juan Padilla, Dave Williams, and Aaron Sele since the end of the 2007 season.